Ron Howard will direct a feature documentary on The Beatles. The focus will be the period from 1960-1966 when the mop-topped quartet took Europe and then the United States by storm with a flurry of 166 concerts in 15 countries and 90 cities. By the time they finished the last concert in San Francisco’s Candlestick Park in 1966, they were as big a band as Elvis Presley was a solo artist. The film has been authorized by the band’s holding company, Apple Corps Ltd, and will have the full cooperation and support of surviving Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, as well as John Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono Lennon, and George Harrison’s widow Olivia Harrison. The docu will be a co-production between Apple, White Horse Pictures’ Nigel Sinclair and Scott Pascucci, and Imagine Entertainment, whose principals Brian Grazer and Howard will produce with Sinclair and Pascucci. Imagine’s Michael Rosenberg and White Horse’s Guy East will be exec producers. They expect to have it ready sometimes next year, and don’t be surprised if there is a sequel, covering the band’s politicization and eventual break-up.
The film begins with the band honing its chops in Liverpool’s Cavern Club, to its first road trip shows in Hamburg, Germany, and other European countries in 1963, right before they came to America for an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. That appearance, on February 9, 1964 sparked a generation of future musicians like Eagles leaders Don … Read More »
From sites of massacres in Indonesia to massive half-pipes in Vermont, from Holland’s halls of art to the world of backup singing, the year’s shortlisted documentary features are stories that would otherwise go untold, some shedding new light on headline-grabbing turf. Each reveals a facet of how we live now: The tragedies and the triumphs, and the power of the genre to share deeper narratives that define identity and culture.
When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the shortlisted films December 3, 15 feature-length documentaries advanced further in the race for a 2014 Oscar nomination. The fact that 147 docs qualified to compete at the beginning of the season demonstrates the power and scope of the genre. Among the films that made the shortlist, Twenty Feet From Stardom is Morgan Neville’s introduction to the world of backup singing through the lives of several women who have had long careers singing behind big names. The brainchild of music executive Gil Friesen, who co-produced the movie, Neville quickly learned that backup singers’ spots on the stage aren’t about lack of talent. “It becomes a film about how we measure success in our country and our society,” he says. “When I first started hearing these hard-luck stories of missed opportunities, these people weren’t broken or bitter about it,” Neville explains. “They had come to see it in a peaceful way. (It) was a way to live the life that you actually have (versus the one that you want). Most of us live in between.”
Nonfic film organization Cinema Eye has unveiled their inaugural “The Unforgettables” list, celebrating 18 of the year’s “notable and significant” docu subjects – including former Indonesian death squad leader Anwar Congo, the mass killer who’s confronted by his crimes in genocide docu The Act Of Killing. In the pic Congo claims to have murdered over 1,000 people while leading the paramilitary forces that also extorted and terrorized half a million Indonesians in the mid-1960s. But Congo and other perpetrators initially participated in the pic to glorify their atrocities, which they’ve never been held accountable for in Indonesia. Should Cinema Eye be honoring nefarious individuals like this rather than the filmmakers who bring them to light?
Over 80 filmmakers and Cinema Eye curators voted on the first class of “Unforgettables” honorees selected “to publicly acknowledge the rich collaborations that often take place between subjects and filmmakers,” according to Cinema Eye founding director AJ Schnack. It’s tricky territory. The list includes another killer: Tilikum the deadly orca who killed multiple humans while in captivity, who doesn’t sit for a single interview with the filmmakers in Blackfish.
After the record-breaking success of last week’s Veronica MarsKickstarter launch, another crew of filmmakers is striking out on the crowdfunding platform with a film linked to a beloved cult series. Filmmakers Jeff Smith and Neil Lieberman spent five years nabbing interviews with Arrested Development‘s creatives and cast including Mitch Hurwitz, Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, David Cross, Jeffrey Tambor, Portia de Rossi, Scott Baio, Henry Winkler, Alia Shawkat, Tony Hale, and Jay Chandrasekhar. They even got Arrested Development enthusiast Keith Olbermann to sit for the camera and crossed the country visiting fans of the cancelled and soon-to-be-revived comedy show. Now they’re seeking a little over $20,000 to pay Fox for use of photos in their documentary, with 27 days to go. Donation prizes range from digital downloads and DVDs/Blu-rays to a private screening of the film. The series returns with 14 new episodes via Netflix in May. Here’s their trailer for the film:
Deadline Awards Columnist Pete Hammond talks with ENTV’s Brian Corsetti about his pick to win the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. Nominees include four powerful issue-oriented films and one that tracks a long-lost musical star. The winner, Pete says, likely will be not only the year’s best documentary but one of its best films of any kind.
EXCLUSIVE: Oscar winner Charlize Theron will narrate the documentaryAngels In Exileabout street kids in her native South Africa. Directed by Billy Raftery, the film examines the real life of homeless youth in Durham, South Africa. Raftery spent eight years following two youths in particular, Zulieka and Ariel, as they grew from children to adolescents and dealt with the dangers of their world. “You can’t help but connect with Zulieka, her strength and radiant disposition somehow shines through the unimaginably rough world she finds herself in,” said South African-born Theron about what drew her to the project.Raftery, Adam Paul Smith, Franklin Martin and Doug Matejka are producing Angels In Exile in association with the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project, Red Granite Productions and Act 4 Entertainment. Riza Aziz, David Johnson, Joe Petri and Harry Barton executive produce. Theron’s charity works to keep African young people safe from HIV/AIDS. Appearing in the upcoming Mad Max reboot, Charlize Theron is repped by WME.
New York, August 6, 2012 – The Wagner/Cuban Company’s Magnet Releasing announced today an all rights distribution deal for Citizens United Productions’ documentary OCCUPY UNMASKED, one of the last projects featuring the late conservative icon Andrew Breitbart. OCCUPY UNMASKED was written and directed by award-winning director Stephen K. Bannon and produced by David N. Bossie. Magnet is giving the film a limited theatrical release day and date with VOD in late September.
“This film is controversial, and that’s exactly the reason we want to ensure it can find its audience prior to the November elections,” said Mark Cuban, co-owner of Magnet. “I look forward to our partnership with Citizens United Productions and to getting this film out to the masses.”
Comedy director Adam McKay’s very serious documentary about the dropout epidemic in American schools gained a key ally today. Scott “Scooter” Braun, who manages such musical acts as Justin Bieber and The Wanted and produced Bieber’s 2011 concert movie Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, has signed on to produce the film along with McKay. The project has been in development since McKay hooked up with documentary filmmaker Jason Pollock last fall. Read More »
Showtime has greenlighted Suge Knight (working title), a feature-length documentary about the Death Row Records co-founder as well as the volatile and influential era in music over which he presided. The project will be directed by Training Day helmer Antoine Fuqua. Suge Knight, produced by Bradley J. Fischer and Fuqua, will be the first in a series of new documentaries produced by Showtime that will spotlight iconic and controversial figures and be done by A-list filmmakers. The documentary marks Knight’s return to the music business; through his new company Black Kapital, he will oversee the film’s soundtrack. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Well Go USA has acquired all North American rights to Hit So Hard, a documentary feature about Patty Schemel, the drummer in Courtney Love’s rock band Hole. Well Go has partnered with Variance Films, which plans to release the film in major markets early next year. The film follows the career rise of Schemel, who was catapulted into the music scene in the 1990s with the band’s success, and looks back at her relationships with Hole, Love and Love’s husband Kurt Cobain and the addictions that almost killed her. P. David Ebersole directed the pic from a screenplay he penned with Todd Hughes. Hughes and Christina Soletti produced. The rights deal was negotiated by Kevin Iwashina and Christine D’Souza of Preferred Content and Ryan Saul of APA on behalf of the filmmakers, and by Well Go president Doris Pfardrescher.
HBO has inked a deal for North American TV rights to Martin Scorsese’s documentary George Harrison: Living in the Material World, which will debut on the network in two parts on Oct. 5 and Oct. 6. The doc explores the musical and spiritual life of the ex-Beatle and cultural icon, mostly in Harrison’s own words. It’s the latest musical documentary from Scorsese, who also recently made No Direction Home: Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones doc Shine a Light. His latest feature film, the 3D Hugo Cabret, is due out Nov. 23 from Paramount.
Senna, a documentary about Brazilian race car driver Ayrton Senna that has become the highest-grossing British doc in UK history, is being released in the U.S. on Aug. 12 by Producers Distribution Agency (Exit Through the Gift Shop). The Working Title production in association with Midfield Films won the World Cinema Audience Award this year at Sundance. Asif Kapadia directed.
NEW YORK, June 6, 2011 – HBO Documentary Films has acquired the domestic TV rights to THE UNION from Vinyl Films, it was announced today. Directed by Cameron Crowe (“Almost Famous,” “Jerry Maguire”), the film will debut on HBO in Jan. 2012.
THE UNION takes an unprecedented look at the creative life of Elton John and his remarkable collaborative album with his early-career idol, Leon Russell, produced by award-winning music producer T Bone Burnett. Never before filmed in his composing process, John is captured by Crowe in this candid portrait of one of the world’s most treasured artists and performers. Begun in Nov. 2009, THE UNION chronicles the entire writing and recording process of the heralded album John recorded with Russell.
“I’m a great fan of HBO and their extraordinary programming, so I’m particularly thrilled that they will be airing THE UNION,” commented Elton John.
The film had its world premiere as the opening night selection at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival. Creative Artists Agency (CAA) represents Crowe and Burnett and negotiated the deal with HBO on behalf of the filmmakers.
THE UNION is directed by Cameron Crowe; produced by Cameron Crowe and Michelle Panek; executive producer, Johnny Barbis; editor, Kevin Long.
Ken Burns’ latest documentary Prohibition will kick off PBS’ fall season Oct. 2-4, the pubcaster announced today in unveiling its slate of programming, which will include the first-ever PBS Arts Fall Festival that will run into December. Prohibition, which will tell the tales behind the rise and fall of the 18th Amendment outlawing alcohol in America, is from Burns and collaborator Lynn Novick and features the voices of Tom Hanks, Jeremy Irons, Paul Giamatti, Oliver Platt, John Lithgow, Samuel L. Jackson, Patricia Clarkson, Adam Arkin, Sam Waterston, Josh Lucas and others, with narration by Peter Coyote.
The Fall Festival initiative offers full-length performances, artist and performer profiles, behind-the-scenes documentaries and mini-films about the art scenes in different cities nationwide. It kicks off Friday, Oct. 14 and will air Fridays through December with all-new broadcasts of classic and contemporary performances including Women Who Rock, inspired by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum’s exhibit; Give Me The Banjo, narrated by Steve Martin, a banjoist himself, exploring the roots of American music; and Great Performances: The Little Mermaid From San Francisco Ballet.
Also getting a launch date is the four-part NOVA miniseries The Fabric of the Cosmos, which will run Wednesdays in November beginning Nov. 2. NOVA and Nature will be paired on Wednesdays in the fall.
Magnolia Pictures announced today that it has acquired all world rights to Limelight, a documentary about legendary nightclub owner Peter Gatien, from filmmakers Billy Corben and Alfred Spellman of rakontur.
Los Angeles – April 20, 2011 – Red Flag Releasing announced today that it has acquired “WE WERE HERE,” produced and directed by David Weissman and editor/co-director Bill Weber. The film recently world premiered at the Sundance Film Festival followed by the Berlin International Film Festival. Red Flag will theatrically release the film in September 2011.
WE WERE HERE is the first documentary to take a deep and reflective look back at the impact of the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco when it was first identified 30 years ago this year. It explores how the City’s inhabitants were affected by, and responded to the calamitous epidemic. WE WERE HERE reaches beyond San Francisco and the human toll of AIDS itself. It is an inspirational film that speaks to the human capacity of individuals to rise to the occasion, and to the incredible collective power of a community coming together with love, compassion, and determination.
Red Flag Releasing will distribute the film in partnership with the filmmakers, The Film Collaborative, New Video and PBS’ Independent Lens, creating a release pattern fitting for this incredibly moving look into the tragedy and eventual triumph of a community organizing to respond to the AIDS epidemic. The film’s release will include theatrical, OnDemand, DVD, digital download channels, and television (in spring 2012), as well as an educational/non-theatrical outreach component through New Yorker Films. The film’s worldwide producer’s rep Jonathan Dana and TFC’s Orly Ravid orchestrated the deals.
EXCLUSIVE: Add a feature documentary to the list of new things Katie Couric is planning to explore as she is wrapping up her five-year stint as anchor of CBS Evening News. Couric is involved in a new feature documentary about obesity, which is currently in the works. It hails from Stephanie Soechtig and Jason Lindsey, directors of the 2009 documentary Tapped, about the the negative impact of bottled water on people’s health and the environment. Couric’s involvement in the new documentary stems from her relationship with Soechtig. Couric interviewed the filmmaker last summer in a segment about the bottled-water debate on her online series @katiecouric. Couric’s spokesman said that “Katie is being supportive of the project because she cares about the issue (of obesity).” Her exact role in the documentary is still TBD, but serving as a producer or narrator are among the possibilities. Couric is the final phase of deciding where she will sign a wide-ranging deal that would include a daytime syndicated talk show, news network presence and the launch of her own production company. CBS and NBC remain leading contenders, with CBS’ offer, which includes a 60 Minutes gig, said to be particularly strong. As for the latest Couric-related rumor, that that she may partner with former Today co-host Matt Lauer for her syndicated talk show, “there are no plans right now for us to work together,” Couric told reporters last night after a signing for her … Read More »
Oscilloscope Laboratories and Showtime Networks Inc. announced today their acquisition of the widely lauded Sundance Film Festival 2011 documentary, REBIRTH, directed by Jim Whitaker.
The result of a filmmaking journey into living history, the story of REBIRTH follows the transformation of five people, over the course of 10 years, whose lives were forever altered on September 11, 2001 – and simultaneously tracks, via unprecedented multi-camera time lapse photography, the evolution of the space where the Twin Towers once rose over lower Manhattan.
Whitaker seamlessly weaves these personal stories of hope and healing and reveals a universal truth, one which shows human beings will overcome and aspire to renewal, even when the very fabric of their lives has changed.
Oscilloscope will release REBIRTH in theatres in August 2011. SHOWTIME will broadcast REBIRTH on the 10th anniversary of the events of September 11th.
The film as well as other original programming created by the REBIRTH team will eventually be housed at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum located at Ground Zero. All proceeds from REBIRTH will go to the Project Rebirth Center to develop and provide new multi-media tools to aid the therapists, academics, first responders and others working with people dealing with grief.